Monday Mornings with Madison

The Connection Between Happiness and Place

The U.S. Declaration of Independence boldly states in the Preamble that “All men are created equal.  And that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.  That among these rights is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  The pursuit of happiness was and is still viewed today as an undeniable right and goal of all people.  Of course, one doesn’t have to be a scientist to know that there are many factors that impact individual happiness.  Relationships.  Career.  Economic well-being.  Personal freedom.  Spirituality.  Physical fitness.  Emotional health.  However, little scientific research had been done on measuring happiness… until recently.  More and more, there has been a push to understand what affects happiness in order to be able to pursue and attain it. Continue reading

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The Most Underestimated, Undervalued and Needed Skill in Business – Part 2

Good Writing

Imagine this.  An employee has to write a proposal for a prospective client.  The proposal is not something that can be copied from something else online or taken from another sample.  Now imagine that the proposal goes out to the prospective client, filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes.  In the proposal, the company’s values and services are unclear.  How would that employee’s manager feel if he got wind of that document?  Embarrassed?  Humiliated?  How would that proposal affect the company’s ability to land that client?  How would that proposal impact that employee’s upward mobility? Continue reading

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The Most Underestimated, Undervalued and Needed Skill in Business – Part 1

Good Writing

What skill is the least venerated, most underrated and yet most essential skill in business today?  Is it the ability to speak clearly and connect with people?  No, although it is a vital skill and most people think the best leaders are those who can deliver a rousing, engaging speech.  Is it excellent resource management?  No, even though managers who can get the most productivity out of their team generally get the best bonuses.   Is it the ability to crunch numbers and data in order to maximize profitability?  No, but the number-crunchers definitely have the most power and control within most organizations.  Is it the ability to persuade and sell?  No, even though salespeople are treated like royalty at most companies.  Actually, the skill that is probably the most valuable for managers, leaders and business people at all levels in all industries is the ability to write well. Continue reading

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Managing Staff Vacations during the Dog Days of Summer

The temperature is anywhere between a sizzling 82 degrees and a scorching 102 degrees, from Montauk to Miami and from Dallas to Des Moines.  Kids are wrapping up their summer break from school.  Families are heading to the shore, water parks and lakes to cool off or up to the mountains to relax.  Adventure seekers are cruising, sailing and soaring to far-off destinations.  Vacations abound. Continue reading

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The Road to Employee Productivity is Paved with High Expectations

There are countless sayings about setting high expectations.  Aim high.  Shoot for the stars.  Raise the bar.  The belief is that the higher the expectations, the greater the results.  But is this actually true?  Can the expectations that we set for a person actually affect how well that person performs?  Has this been validated scientifically or is it just an old wives tale? Continue reading

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When a Company’s Brand Sends Mixed Signals – Part 2

Eliminating Mixed Messages with the Three Cs

In many ways, the brand is the Achilles heel of the corporate world.  As companies shift more and more to being all about brand meaning and brand image, the more vulnerable they are to attacks on image.  That is why it is increasingly critical for companies to protect every aspect of their brand, and work hard to avoid having any mixed messages about the company’s purpose and position.   That includes guiding – as much as is possible or practical – what the company’s own people say about the company.  This is a challenge for even the most successful businesses. Continue reading

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When a Company’s Brand Sends Mixed Signals – Part 1

A Mixed Message Mess

Every company, no matter its size or purpose, has a brand.  Regardless of whether the owners and leadership know what the brand is or what it stands for, the company brand exists.  In theory, a company’s brand speaks about its purpose, voice and values.  The brand reflects what the company does and does not do and how it wants to be viewed by the world.   In practice, it also reflects what others – customers, potential customers, vendors, investors, and the general public — think about it.  A brand reflects how the company is actually perceived by the world. Continue reading

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On Your Mark. Get Set. Start.

When a runner is getting ready to run a race – whether a sprint or a marathon — the runner typically has a routine or series of actions to prepare for that race.  There is, of course, a lot of conditioning leading up to race day.  A couple of hours before the start, a runner might pop a few Advil and drink a lot of water.  He might eat a hearty breakfast to provide the body with adequate fuel.  Then shortly before the start, he might check the laces on his running shoes.  He might also do a lot of stretching and warm-up exercises.  When the race is about to start, the runner will probably line up at the starting line, get into a running position, and listen for the countdown, whistle or buzzer that signals to go. Each of those actions work as tiny cues to get the body’s adrenaline pumping and prime the runner to go swiftly from inertia to movement. Continue reading

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Appetizing Alliances: The Ingredients of a Successful Partnership

There are similarities between creating a successful partnership and cooking a great dish. In order to create a meal that is a culinary success, a good chef starts with the right ingredients. Certain ingredients are essential. Without those, the dish will taste either wrong or bad. But it’s not just important to have the right ingredients. The quantity and quality of each ingredient also matters. Continue reading

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Redeeming Reputation in the Digital Realm – Part 2

A company’s reputation is its most important asset.  A person’s individual reputation is his or her most important possession.   Yet, most people and companies are entirely unaware of their online reputation.  While ignorance may be bliss in some things, it is incredibly risky to be ignorant of one’s online reputation.  Attention all business owners, managers and professionals:  what you don’t know about what others think of you can hurt you!  That is why there are now professionals – reputation management experts — who make a living helping people and companies monitor, protect, and (if necessary) redeem their online reputation. Continue reading

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